Amazon kneels before the mob

Anderson, who is the president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, represents what might be called the Princeton School of social conservatism, and he has published works in association with scholars such as Robert P. George, among others. He is a serious thinker and analyst (after Princeton he took a doctorate in political philosophy from Notre Dame), not a Breitbart troll. “It’s not a bomb-throwing book of red meat and heated rhetoric,” he says of the book that has been made by Amazon into samizdat. “Even a book like that, as rigorous as it can be and as civil as it can be, is unacceptable. It’s not about how we say it or how we defend it, but simply about the position we hold.”

As a narrow legal question, Amazon is of course within its rights to exclude books from its marketplace, whether those be works of conservative criticism, Lolita, or the Quran. But powerful institutions such as Amazon should stand up for principles, including the principle of free speech and open discourse. Jeff Bezos of all people knows that: When the National Enquirer attempted to blackmail him, he went public at the risk of some personal embarrassment, asking a pertinent question: “If in my position I can’t stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can?”

If in his position, and in Amazon’s position, one of the wealthiest men on Earth cannot afford to stand up to the mob demanding virtual book-burnings in order to suppress the communication of ideas and positions with which they are at odds, who can?